Harbors Division draws EPA wrath


POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered the state Department of Transportation's Harbors Division to comply with the Clean Water Act after violations were discovered at Honolulu and Kalaeloa harbors.

Officials determined fuel, oil and debris carried by stormwater from the harbors and its tenant facilities discharged directly into the water in December 2008.

Many stormwater violations and compliance issues were identified, according to Alexis Strauss, Water Division director of the EPA's Pacific Southwest region, in a written statement.

“;We'll oversee HDOT as they take these actions under this order and ensure we have stronger public health and environmental protections in place.”;

Audits at Honolulu and Kalaeloa harbors were conducted in December by the federal agency and the state Department of Health. The federal stormwater-management program became applicable to the harbors in 2003. This is the first audit of both harbors.

Federal officials determined the Harbors Division failed to develop, implement and enforce an effective program to detect and eliminate illegal discharges. It also failed to compile a list of non-stormwater discharges as well as ensure harbor tenants implement controls.

Michael Formby, deputy director of the state Harbors Division, said, “;We view the order as a positive.”;

“;It's a win-win because now we can work with the EPA and the Department of Health to make sure our program is compliant and the waters stay clean,”; he added. “;Now we know what we didn't know before. We can shore up the program.”;

Under the order, the Harbors Division is required to revise its stormwater-management plans for both harbors by December and submit the revision by the end of January 2010.

The order also requires harbor officials to develop several programs that include implementing a tenant inspection and enforcement program to include annual inspections at all tenant facilities beginning in January.